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Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

New Research Shows Large Businesses More Female Friendly

Big businesses in Australia are making significant inroads in making their organisations more female and family friendly, according an Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency’s (EOWA) survey released today.

Findings from the EOWA Survey on Paid Maternity Leave, Sex Based Harassment Initiatives and the Gender Pay Gap show that 50.8 per cent of large organisations now provide paid maternity leave to employees.

This is an increase of 15 per cent since 2003.

“This is great news for women, their families and businesses across the country,” Ms Plibersek said.

“Large businesses are recognising the talent and skills of women and are implementing measures to retain valuable staff.”

The survey also found evidence of positive changes in organisations which have sought an EOWA Employer of Choice citation.

Some businesses that did not meet the average pay gap criteria this year are now working to do so in order to obtain the citation.

“This is terrific news that proves many large businesses will instigate changes to improve equal employment opportunities,” Ms Plibersek said.

“The report also found, however, that equal pay and sex harassment remain issues of concern.”

“The Government recognises its role in tackling these challenges and is responding through the Fair Work Act, the introduction of paid parental leave and the review of the EOWA.”

The Government’s Fair Work Act 2009 provides enhanced provisions to seek to address the gender pay gap, including by allowing claims for equal remuneration of equal or comparable value and for the review of modern award wages on work value grounds.

More families with new born children will be financially supported through the introduction of Government funded paid parental leave in 2011.

A review of the EOWA and its underlying legislation, the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act, is underway. A discussion paper will be released soon.

For more information or a copy of the EOWA Survey on Paid Maternity Leave, Sex Based Harassment Initiatives and the Gender Pay Gap please visit EOWA (www.eowa.gov.au).

The EOWA is a government agency that works with organisations of over 100 employees to improve employment outcomes for women